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Your Country Your Call

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I have submitted a proposal entitled New Republic - New Constitution to the Your Country Your Call competition which was launched by the President of Ireland. You can see my entry and, hopefully vote for it, at http://tinyurl.com/y7en6rh.

It proposes that the Citizens' Assembly mechanism be used to undertake a comprehensive review of the 1937 Constitution with a view to a new Constitution being put to a referendum ahead of the centenary of the 1916 Rising. A New Republic with a New Constitution would be a much more appropriate way to celebrate this than the predictable parades, flags and monuments.

I had been kicking the idea around for some time but was unable to see how it be progressed without being high-jacked by politicians for their own ends. Several references to Citizens' Assemblies in the inspiring Renewing the Republic series (published by the Irish Times during March/April) were the keys to the door!

Here is my full proposal:

Background

What better way to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising than to establish a New Republic with a New Constitution to lead Ireland into the 22nd Century.**

Lots of great things have happened since 1916. Ireland has made astonishing economic and social progress; peace has come to Northern Ireland; and we are joined the EU, a trans-European movement.

The world has also moved on. New technologies have emerged; the third world is gaining a larger share of world prosperity; and the lessons of two world wars appear to have been learnt. However, many aspects of Ireland's laws and institutions need to be updated to help ensure that economic progress is sustained and that equity, fairness and balance are kept to the fore over the next century.

Here in Ireland, we have had ups and downs but on balance ups have greatly outweighed downs. However, we are currently in the middle of a substantial downturn. In recognition that the Japanese word for threat is the same as that for opportunity, we should use the current situation to create a spring board to rebuild momentum.

New Constitution

The starting point for making Ireland an even better place in which to work and live is reform of the fundamental rules governing the State's activities and management, namely, the Constitution. For example, we need to change the way that citizens are represented and governed at local and national levels - most people would probably agree that the current systems are unsatisfactory. Lots of changes to the Constitution are needed. For example, it would be appropriate to ensure that "cherishing all the children of the nation equally" in the 1916 Proclamation is transposed into a new Constitution.

In this posting, submitted as a comment to my Your Country Your Call proposal, I go onto detail on possible changes to the Constitution. 

Changing the Constitution requires substantial courage and determination, supported by clear thinking, a sound vision and widespread support. This can only be achieved if people and their leaders rally round and work to override the inevitable institutional inertia and intransigence.

The Proposal

My proposal to YCYC is that a process be initiated to develop a New Constitution for a New Republic by 2016. The process should embrace the new technologies (as YCYC has done) and should be very inclusive. It could be called "Your Country, Your Constitution".

The process would be started by creating a Citizens' Assembly (up to 200 people selected at random from the electoral roll) which would serve as the non-political supervisory body. Its working groups would be supported by Irish and international experts in constitutional law, electoral reform etc. selected by the Assembly.

The Assembly would also tap into all key components of the establishment including the Dail, Seanad, political parties, legal system, big/small business, voluntary and community sectors etc. It would also use market research and new technologies to reach out to individuals and gather their views and determine priorities. All its work and deliberations would be published and it would operate in a very transparent manner.

Once a new Constitution has been drafted, moral pressure would be invoked to ensure that elected representatives present it to the electorate for consideration in a referendum. This should be (relatively) straightforward given the electorate's experience of the infinitely more complex Lisbon Treaties.

Conclusion

A new Constitution would lay the foundation for jobs, enterprise and underpin social and economic progress for the next hundred years. With only six years to the 2016 Anniversary, the challenge is to create a New Constitution for a New Republic appropriate to the following Anniversary.

Your Call, Your Constitution.

** This proposal arose from the wonderful Renewing the Republic series in the Irish Times during March 2010 and was prompted by a comment (3rd April) I made to one of the articles proposing to "Establish a Citizens Assembly or similar to commence drafting a new constitution with a view to launching a Second Republic to mark the centenary of the 1916". 

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Brian published on April 21, 2010 2:11 PM.

The Way Ahead ... was the previous entry in this blog.

Changing the Irish Constitution is the next entry in this blog.

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